Apple to introduce new accessibilty features for iOS, iPadOS, watchOS this year

Apple may soon introduce new features in the accessibility department for differently-abled customers. Apple aims to roll out software updates that will assist people with cognitive, vision, mobility, and hearing disabilities.

These new features are expected to be introduced as early as this year and the features will not only be limited to iOS but also iPadOS and WatchOS, according to a report by Mashable.

Apple will be introducing a new service called SignTime which will help mute people communicate with AppleCare as well as Apple Store using sign language. This feature can be accessed via a web browser. Even if the sign language user visits a store, they can take the help of an interpreter through SignTime remotely.

The new SignTime service is expected to launch on May 20 and will be available in the US, UK, and France. However, Apple has plans to expand the feature to other countries over time.

iOS will also get a feature called ‘VoiceOver’ for visually-impaired customers. Apple will provide descriptions of images to those who can’t make out details visually. The service can point out details such as a person’s position, objects. The user will also be able to use the Markup tool, to add their own image descriptions.

To help those hard of hearing or completely deaf, Apple devices will now support bi-directional hearing aids.

iPadOS will allow users to control the operating system by tracking the movement of the eyes. The pointer will be able to follow the gaze of the user and hence help to navigate the UI. The feature of extended eye contact can also trigger an action such as a tap on the screen.

For WatchOS, Apple users will get something called ‘AssistiveTouch’ which “allows users with upper body limb differences to enjoy the benefits of Apple Watch without ever having to touch the display or controls.”

Additionally, using common sensors such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, and the heart-rate monitor, users can control their Apple Watch through gestures — such as pinching or clenching — to answer calls, navigate menus, stop timers, and more.

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